You Asked I Answer: Where is My Price Book?

Every time I mention the price I like to pay for things or reference my price book, I invariably get asked to share my price book with you or share my “buy it” prices. I am going to tackle this in two parts. First I will tackle the price book question:

Why is it important to have a price book?

The purpose of the price book is not just to record prices but keep track of sales cycles. Keeping track of these two things will enable you to identify when you are getting the best deal possible. This is important if you are a stockpiler to help you identify the rock bottom price when you should stockpile something. If you are not much of an stockpiler and instead shop around the sales cycle then this tool is even more valuable to you, as it will help you determine when the next sale will come around and how much you need to buy at the lowest price to get you to the next sale.

Why Should You Have Your Own Price Book?

While you can visit this blog and be sure that I am only sharing the best bargains and deals available, the truth is that you also need to do some of this work on your own. YOU need to learn to identify best sale prices and when sales occur at the stores near you. You may have stores that double coupons, so your price book and the information you glean from it will be different from that of someone who lives in an area where coupons are not doubled or where prices are higher due to higher cost of living in general. Having your own price book will also reveal to you which stores consistently offer the best prices and deals available near you.

How to Get Your Own Price Book Together

In the past I have relied on my own memory to keep track of sale prices for items I am more likely to stock up on, or just items that I feel have the most impact on my grocery budget. But here are the steps I followed to put together my own price book:

  • Narrow down the list of stores you shop more often
  • Make a list of the essential items you buy more often AND have the highest impact on your budget. For example if you have small children, I am sure diapers would be on your list.
  • Next time you visit these stores write down the prices of these items and record them on a notebook or Excel spreadsheet.
  • Here is something very important you need to do: For some items you will need to bring the price of the item down to the unit level. This is the only way you will be able to make a fair comparison among all of the stores you are tracking.
  • Once you have set up your price book, you need to keep it up. By updating it often you will be able to identify sales cycles on the items you are tracking.

I have found a price book is a great tool, because it has armed me with facts and information that allow me to make better purchasing decisions. Your own price book will help you determine what is a good deal and what isn’t and as a result save you money in the long run.

Do you have a price book?  If so, what kind of items do you keep track of in it?

If you have a question you would like answered by me, you can click here to submit it.

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  • I agree so much on the importance of having a price book. It has helped save me quite a bit. I simply use a spread sheet that I print out and keep up to date as I visit my various stores.

    I keep track of nearly everything food that I regularly buy. I don’t put many cosmetic/personal care items on as I typically can get them for free. One thing I have found helpful is to list the price AND the package size, since that helps me get the most accurate price.

    • Stephanie

      Tell me how you get cosmetic and personal care items free. I can sometimes use both the retail and manufacture coupon but I still pay out. Thanks

      • Stephanie, I use sites like this one and others that do the drug store coupon matchups. By matching coupons with sales I haven’t paid for razors, soap, shaving gel, pads, tampons, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and even diapers and wipes often.

        I have found Rite Aid to be a wonderful place to do well at getting cosmetic and personal care items free. Often I have to pay a little out of pocket, but then I get that back via their rebate program which essentially makes the items free. Make sense?

        CVS is good too, and I can get many items free after coupons and Extra Bucks.

  • marcia S

    In my price book I started by tracking produce and meat. I have added much more now! It isn’t hard to start on, start very simple at first and add to it as you go! You will find it to be almost as fun as getting things for free! Have fun with it!

  • I don’t have a price book in a traditional sense. But I do have extremely detailed records of everything I have bought that falls under “groceries” at any of half a dozen or more stores for the last year. Every time I get home from the store I enter all the information from my receipts including what I had coupons for and how much, what the regular and sale prices were at the time, etc. Often if I’m buying more than a few things I’ll set up my shopping list in the spreadsheet before I go, which gives me a very close estimate of how much I’ll be spending, as I can search for the last time I bought an item if it’s not listed in the sales flyer. I can also look up items in the flyer to see whether it’s really a *sale* vs. “advertised price”. It doesn’t help me as much on the fly (in the store) because it’s a many tabbed excel sheet at home, but because I’ve worked with the numbers so often I have a certain feel for things and can usually gauge a reasonable price based on experience. Also, I rarely buy anything that I didn’t pre-plan for. It works for me, the numbers nerd that I am. 🙂

  • pennyscents

    I do not have a price book. I have set prices that I know that I will not pay more than for certain products, like .50 cents for a box of cereal. I do a lot by memory too. I would like to maybe start a price book, though. It def sounds like a good idea, and is something that I have thought about many times.

    How do you have your price book broke down?

    Date, item, store, price, coupon used, where from, price after…………

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  • Olivia

    I started to make a price book last summer, but the store manager at my local grocery store thought I was a spy from Walmart and asked me to leave! I tried explaining to her what I was doing, but she still was suspicious the whole time I was there. I am now pretty hesistant to try again because apparently Walmart spies are a big problem around here. . .*eye roll*

    • Start with your receipts. You only need to track prices on the things you buy anyway, so just record what you buy for a few trips, and you’ll find that you have very little “extracurricular scouting” to do. 🙂

  • I don’t have a price book. But after a while, I have learned what my “buy it” price is for boneless skinless chicken breasts, and won’t buy it unless it hits that price. I have also been jotting down the price for toilet paper at various stores (by the regular roll b/c it is so hard to compare) and am trying to figure out my buy it price for that also.

  • Miriam

    I downloaded an app for my Palm that is called HandyShopper. It is free. I LOVE it! I put my shopping list on it, and then sometimes I will put the lowest price I have ever found it at. Then when I see something on sale, I do a quick search on my palm phone, and find the price. If it beats that price, I buy all I can.

  • Stephanie

    I guess I am a sucker!! I shop at Costco and buy in bulk.

  • Amy

    I have a price book in an excel sheet. I have separate pages set up according to how my coupons are organized by category (because my brain can’t handle more than one way of organizing grocery related stuff). I record the cheapest sale prices I see and then also the cheapest price I’ve been able to get when coupons are factored in. I’ve never tracked the sale cycles, but that’s a good idea too.